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Liverpool dig in heels on Luis Suarez

Glen Johnson, left, and Luis Suarez in training this week. Liverpool have rejected two Arsenal bids for the striker. Picture: Getty

Glen Johnson, left, and Luis Suarez in training this week. Liverpool have rejected two Arsenal bids for the striker. Picture: Getty

  • by MASSIMO MARZOCCHI
 

LIVERPOOL managing director Ian Ayre has reiterated the club’s determination to keep striker Luis Suarez.

The Reds have rejected bids of £30million and £40m plus £1 from Arsenal, while the wantaway forward has also been linked with Real Madrid.

Suarez has made clear in a series of interviews since the end of last season that he wants to leave Anfield, but the Merseysiders are not willing to sell the controversial Uruguay international.

Ayre, speaking at a press conference in Bangkok during the club’s pre-season tour, told reporters: “The situation with Luis Suarez remains the same. It’s never been our intention to sell Luis. As has been widely reported in the media we’ve received two separate offers from Arsenal for the player and we’ve rejected those offers. Luis remains a Liverpool player and is here with us in Thailand as part of our squad.”

Suarez was allowed an extended summer break after his involvement in the Confederations Cup with Uruguay but joined the Liverpool squad in Australia earlier this week. He appeared as a substitute in Wednesday’s game against Melbourne Victory and has been training ahead of the next pre-season fixture against Thailand tomorrow.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Suarez, 26, would be making a mistake by moving to Arsenal. Rodgers said: “I know what we are trying to build and grow, so why would you swap Liverpool to go to Arsenal?

“I am not sure that it adds up, to be honest. Arsenal has a wonderful history in its own right but Liverpool is one of the biggest clubs in the world. Okay, we might not be in the Champions League and haven’t been for a while now but our competitors have grown around us and we have to step up to the challenge now. Would it be a mistake for Luis to leave? 100 per cent. The team was built around Luis last season. It is difficult for Luis, I understand that. If a team wants you, it can be difficult.”

Liverpool have been followed by big crowds throughout their pre-season trip to Indonesia and Australia, and Thailand this week looks to be no different.

Rodgers hopes that is something that will help get the message home. He said: “I am sure Luis will have seen the sheer size and status of the club, so we’ll just see how it goes. It is not something we want to run on too long.”

Rodgers has also confirmed that goalkeeper Jose Reina is set to join Napoli on loan. The Italian club, now managed by former Reds boss Rafael Benitez, made an approach for the Spain international last week.

Liverpool can afford to let the 30-year-old move out having signed Belgium ’keeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland earlier this summer. Rodgers said: “It was obviously a difficult decision. From last season, really, as a manager I was led to believe that we were going to get an offer for Pepe that would probably see him leave the club. On the football side, we have to protect the team, and at that stage we started our search for another goalkeeper.

“That found us Simon Mignolet, who’s top class – one of the top young European goalkeepers. As events transpired, that move (for Reina) didn’t happen and it left us with two very good goalkeepers. Both would have been fighting for the number one position. Then obviously an opportunity arose for Pepe and it was one we felt as a football club was best for him to take. As a senior goalkeeper, he needs to be playing. It’s a very important year for him with the World Cup next year.

“It wouldn’t have served any purpose, both for the club and him personally, if he’d been the one missing out. It’s decided he will go to Napoli and we’ve got two very good goalkeepers still at the football club. We’ll review it after the loan finishes.”

lTeenage striker Chuba Akpom came off the bench to score the winner as Arsenal completed an unbeaten tour of Asia with a 2-1 win over Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds. Arsenal had taken the lead through Lukas Podolski, a half-time replacement for Olivier Giroud, before Japan international Yuki Abe equalised with a long-range effort.

But Akpom sealed the victory for Arsenal eight minutes from time when he capitalised on a defensive blunder to score his fourth goal of a successful tour.

 

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